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Amt Macht Stadt

Erich Leischner and the Vienna Stadtbauamt

Wed 16.06.1999 – Mon 02.08.1999
Exhibition poster

Exhibition poster: Amt Macht Stadt
© Architekturzentrum Wien, photograph: Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv, graphic design: Krieger|Sztatecsny, Büro für visuelle Gestaltung

As one of the most creative and versatile among the civil servant architects employed by the architectural department of the Vienna Stadtbauamt, Erich Franz Leischner ideally personifies the institution that shaped public architecture in Vienna with its highly qualified host of civil servants for a period of 90 years.

Aside from a considerable wealth of their own designs, particularly in the field of social, cultural, and technical infrastructure, an abundance of housing projects were realized according to blueprints fathered by the civil servant architects.

From their central position, the tenured architects contributed amply and across political rifts to defining the character and identity of Vienna’s cityscape, almost without ever being taken note of publicly. With a focus on the interim war period, this exhibition aims to document the character of this institution’s distinct architectural approach from the typological and historical points of view.


Dietmar Steiner, Director Architekturzentrum Wien
Gerhard Weber, Director of Vienna Stadtbauamt

Curators: Erich Bernard, Barbara Feller, Peyrer-Heimstätt

Catalogue: The exhibition prepared by Erich Bernard, Barbara Feller, and Karl Peyrer-Heimstätt will be accompanied by a catalogue with contributions by Friedrich Achleitner, Erich Bernard and Barbara Feller, Peter Eigner and Andreas Resch, and Jan Tabor. The catalogue will be presented during the event Tuesday Architecture 03 on June 29, 1999, 7:00 p.m.(ATS 380.- / EUR 27.61)

Guided tours:
Saturday, June 19, 1999, 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 10, 1999, 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 24, 1999, 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday Architecture:
03 – Tuesday, June 29, 1999, 7:00 p.m.
04 – Tuesday, July 13, 1999, 7:00 p.m.

Supported by:
Stadtplanung Wien
Wien Kultur
Kunst Bundeskanzleramt
Zumtobel Staff
Arch+Ing W, NÖ, B
Schindler AG

The Vienna Stadtbauamt

The Vienna Stadtbauamt as independent public municipal office was founded upon imperial decree in 1835. Grouping all the city offices involved in building and technology reflected the rise in municipal tasks, at a time, when numerous facilities, hitherto privately owned, were being transferred to communal administration.

World War I
While until World War I, when the population was booming and Karl Lueger was Vienna’s mayor, activities focused on the improvement of technical infrastructure and foresighted city planning, the downfall of the monarchy triggered far-reaching changes, which also fundamentally altered the Vienna Stadtbauamt.

Red Vienna
The communal politics propagated by the Red Vienna, which was read as the classic example of a “differentÓ type of politics by Social Democrat leaders, emphasized housing and public welfare. As a result, new construction needs arose which were catered to centrally by the architects of the Vienna Stadtbauamt. In particular at the beginning of the 20s, the civil servants employed in the architecture department busied themselves primarily with the planning of municipal residential buildings and housing estates. When in 1923, the number of such buildings to be built, stipulated by the Vienna municipality’s resolution in its 1st housing program shot up, assignments to large-scale construction projects began to include an increasing number of free-lance architects. Yet overall project handling remained in the hands of the Vienna Stadtbauamt. This housing program also saw the development of some central guidelines for the new apartments which became standards applicable to all municipal housing. By 1934, approximately one fourth of all municipal housing (i.e. more than 1500 apartments) had been put up by architects employed at the Vienna Stadtbauamt.
Aside from housing, the large number of public welfare facilities, such as kindergartens, schools, swimming pools, and bathing grounds, in which Erich Leischner played a leading role as a planner, also merit special mention.

Architectural continuity has developed at the Vienna Stadtbauamt in parallel
Identity to the continuity of staff – leading to a distinct architectural vocabulary that extends beyond the familiar housing program to include all other communal building project categories.
Finally, the superior role of the Stadtbauamt – especially of the architectural department – generated an architectural identity, an unmistakable architectural symbolism that enabled easy identification of projects related to the communal building program.
The roots of this stylistic form, which cannot be attributed to modernity, cubism, constructivism, sezessionism, or historicism, yet adopts and integrates certain features of all these styles, can be found predominantly with the architects around Otto Wagner and urban development director, Heinrich Goldemund.
Due to the focus of their training and their assistant work in Wagner’s atelier, the students of Otto Wagner were well versed in large-scale building projects and the challenges of urban planning. As a result, Wagner students were assigned plenty of communal building projects of varying size and some of them became permanently employed by the architectural department of the Vienna Stadtbauamt (Konstantin Peller, Gottlieb Michal, Engelbert Mang, Karl Ehn).

Nazi regime
With the invasion of the National Socialists, some conditions in the Vienna Stadtbauamt changed dramatically. Not that the staff was replaced, but the posts were reallocated among the staff employed. Both the expansion of the municipal area to “Gross-Wien and the war-time administrative and architectural reorientation brought about changes in the office’s constructional tasks. Housing projects – aside from a handful of cheerless estates – were more or less discontinued, and barracks, air-raid shelters, and temporary homes were built instead. Aside from German Reich architects, those responsible for planning these building projects – the overall volume being rather small – were the civil servant architects working at the Vienna Stadtbauamt.
Aside from frequent exemption from military service, the permanent nature of employment at the municipality of Vienna also afforded the possibility to carry out planning tasks, even in an extremely tense situation.

During reconstruction, the Vienna Stadtbauamt architects again significantly contributed to determining Vienna’s tectonic design following the ravages of war. A spectrum has resulted, spanning decades and differing ideological governments, which has clearly left its mark on Vienna’s city design.
When during the reconstruction phase in 1949, the architectural department was closed and its activities were integrated into other departments (MA 19), the Vienna Stadtbauamt withdrew from its planning and execution role and centered its attention on consulting, thereby leaving more and more communal building projects to freelance architects.


1885 Born on January 2, 1887 in Vienna to Hans Leischner, chief inspector of the Viennese professional fire brigade as well as widely known drawer and watercolorist, and Jeanette (Johanna) Leischner, née Staudigl
Primary school, then secondary education at the Bundesrealschule Schottenbastei

1906 Matura (school-leaving certificate) and enrollment in architectural studies at the Vienna University of Technology
Passes 1st state exam with “very qualified”.

ab 1911 voluntary at the Vienna Stadtbauamt, at first with a student contract
Design proposals for the Vienna water works and the municipal electricity utilities

1912 State exam and graduation from the Vienna University of Technology
with honours in utility building and architecture.
Teachers: Carl Mayreder, Max v. Ferstel, Leopold Simony, Carl König

ab 1913 employed as architects at the Stadtbauamt, at first in the department for school construction, later in the architectural department

1915 – 1918 War service in a pioneer battalion, military objects in Transylvania and in the Carpathian Mountains. First lieutenant

1918 Birth of his daughter Traude
Passes the city architecture exam with “excellent qualification”
Until he retires, he carries out numerous housing projects as architect in the architectural department of the Vienna Stadtbauamt in the framework of the housing program designed by the social-democratic community administration. Furthermore swimming pools, bridges, streets, parks, cemeteries, garages, kindergartens, buildings for the fire brigade and the water works, monuments and fountains.
Painter and drawer of Vienna views, show pictures,i.e.

1924 Baurat (member of the construction council)

1929 Among those proposed by the professorial college for the chair of utility building construction at the Vienna University of Technology

1931 – 1932 Among those proposed by the professorial college for the chair of architecture at the Vienna University of Technology

1933 – 1934 Among those proposed by the professorial college for the chair of civil engineering at the Vienna University of Technology

1937 Oberbaurat (senior member of the building council)

1938 Commissioned to perform für “special tasks” for the city’s regulation department, creation of show pictures for propaganda-motivated reconstruction plans for Vienna

1945 Marriage with Stephanie Josepha, née Holzer
Head of the re-established the architectural department of the City of Vienna and building consulting department (later Magistratsabteilung 19)

1947 Senatsrat (member of the architectural senate)

ab 1949 Retirement from his public office, free-lance architect as of this point
Member of the Chamber of Engineers for Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland
Member of the society “Gesellschaft bildender Künstler Wiens, Künstlerhaus”
Laureate of the Goldener Lorbeer
Numerous projects for the City of Vienna and for private clients.

1970 Dies in Vienna on April 14.